Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Concern over sale of Queen Elizabeth Square

Queen Elizabeth Square. Photo / Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth Square. Photo / Getty Images

The sale of Queen Elizabeth Square is not following the same successful planning path as Britomart, Wynyard Quarter and Viaduct Harbour, says the Auckland Architecture Association.

The association is opposed to a plan to rezone the 1892sq m square from public open space as part of a $550 million redevelopment of the Downtown Shopping Centre site.

Association spokesman Bill McKay said the plan only relates to the square despite the whole of the downtown west area being redeveloped.

"We oppose incremental approaches. We seek comprehensive public input into the planning for the whole downtown precinct.

"This will allow for the sort of integrated planning that successfully shaped other central Auckland precincts including Britomart, Viaduct Harbour and Wynyard Quarter," Mr McKay said.

The Auckland Council has agreed to sell Queen Elizabeth Square to Precinct Properties for $27.2 million, and last month approved a publicly notified plan change to rezone the square.

Mr McKay said the association's submission to the plan change also expressed concern about the lack of certainty that public space will be provided to make up for the loss of Queen Elizabeth Square area.

"The association cannot support an incremental measure that relegates compensating public space provision to some unspecified time in the future, particularly when the paucity and scarcity of available opportunities is considered," he said.

The association said it could support the scale of development at the square provided equivalent or better public space replaced it, and downtown public spaces and streetscapes were protected from effects arising from new public transport infrastructure after the removal of the Lower Queen St bus terminal.

Last month, Waitemata Local Board member Vernon Tava reminded councillors on the Auckland Development Committee about an agreement to use the proceeds to provide at least two of three identified potential public spaces along the downtown waterfront.

The public spaces are the ferry basin between Queens and Princes Wharf at the foot of lower Albert St, around the historic Ferry Building and the base of Queens Wharf, and east of Queens Wharf in the Admiralty Steps area.

Mr Tava said the new public space had created intense public interest and discussions should be out in the open.

"This needs daylight. The bottom line is we are seeing the privatisation of a public space with no clear guarantees we are going to get an alternative," he said.

- NZ Herald

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